Life of a Stylist: Kai Wan on Management, Education and Photography
For this month’s Life of a Stylist, we spoke to Kai Wan about his impressive résumé within the industry, including his roles as salon owner, educator and renowned hair photographer.
Click through the gallery for a selection of Kai’s favourite work or read below for our in-depth catch up.
What was your journey into the hairdressing industry?
From an early age I was into art, music and fashion and was always drawing or making things. In my early teens, music became a passion. As you can imagine, when I walked into a buzzing hair salon with people creating whilst listening to the latest tunes, I was taken in by it. I got my hair done and thought to myself: “This is what I want to do!” I worked in that salon for six years starting on a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) and worked my way up to become a senior stylist.
What are your current roles?
Currently, I’m the salon owner at Pkai Hair. Along with my wife, we run three salons and I work on the salon floor seeing clients. I’m also a guest artist and educator for Wella Professionals, a hair photographer and I’m on the council for the Fellowship for British Hairdressing.
What do you enjoy most about having multiple roles?
I love having different roles within the industry and developing strings to my bow because jumping on opportunities as they arise has allowed me to diversify. I love that one day I am a fully booked stylist and the next I’m shooting a cover for a magazine. I can’t ever see myself giving up having clients in the salon though because I enjoy making people look good too much.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career so far?
One of the biggest challenges in my early career was getting over my shyness and ability to make conversation with clients. I lacked confidence but hairdressing and my mentors really helped me. I can now stand on a stage and present to thousands of people.
Which role do you find most challenging?
Being a business owner is very challenging, especially if you have a team that rely on you, but communication is key. A few key words I live by are – standards, honesty, integrity, transparency, praise and education. I also believe you should challenge yourself in everything you do. I always strive to do things even better than I’ve done them previously, whether it’s a graduated bob, hosting a team meeting or shooting a collection.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a stylist and a photographer?
It’s crucial to understand both skills because they are worlds apart. Study the work you’ve created with your human eye and then study the photographic image of it – the camera and lighting will give different effects to your overall look.
What Instagram accounts inspire you at the moment?
What’s next for you and your career?
We’re opening a new venue later this year on a quayside along a river. We’re really excited about it and designing a space that will be flexible and inspirational. We want to bring together the elements of hair, beauty, fashion and imagery.